Olympic bid not a ‘done deal,’ says Wu; asks more transparency

Boston City Councillor Michelle Wu is demanding more accountability from Boston 2024, the private group behind Boston’s bid to host the 2024 summer Olympic games.

A City Council commission focused on the Olympics was approved at last week’s meeting. A rules committee meeting on the commission will take place on Jan. 29, meaning the soonest the group can begin its work is Feb. 4. A series of public meetings separate from those planned by the mayor’s office and Boston 2024 will start soon after that, Wu said.

“I do think it’s definitely not a done deal and the folks from 2024 have said the same to me,” the at-large councillor told the Reporter on Monday, adding that it is important for people on both sides of the issue to remain vocal. “The big question is whether the city expends any funds and resources,” she said. “If any funding passes through the city, even as a grant, the council votes on it. There are big questions as to who will be the government entity to sign Olympics contracts; whether it’s the city or the state.”

In an op-ed published by WGBH, Wu outlined suggested actions to further open up the bid process: the posting of all relevant documents online for the press and public; the creation of an expert commission to review the bid; and the holding of Boston 2024 to public disclosure standards. Wu also called on local elected bodies to vote on the idea in every city and town in which a sited facility would be located. She stopped short of calling for a wider ballot referendum on the issue.

This week, Mayor Martin Walsh made it clear that he does not support a popular referendum on the matter, either. However, in a statement issued on Tuesday, hisd office said he would not stand in the way of such an initiative. “He looks forward to engaging in a robust community process and having a two-way conversation with all neighborhoods as we move forward,” said Walsh’s communications director, Laura Oggeri, in a statement. “Should the public decide to collect signatures for a referendum, that is a right of the people that the mayor fully supports.”

Boston 2024 did not respond to requests for comment about Wu’s proposal. The group was going to make its bid presentation available to the media and public for the first time yesterday (Jan. 21), with select proprietary information withheld, organizers say.

“The more people that are asking for it, the more responsive Boston 2024 has to be because there is a robust commitment to community process here,” Wu said. “If you go to the scoring matrix for how applicants are judged as the eventual city that hosts the Olympics, there is a component that is dedicated to public opinion and public sentiment.”

On Tuesday, WBUR reported that 50 percent of Boston residents polled “support” the Olympics while 33 percent “oppose” the games. The city will kick off its city-wide series of monthly public meetings with a session at Suffolk University on Jan. 27 at 6 p.m.